Advice - we all need it on occasion, give it on others. Sometimes it is welcomed, at others it is resented and rejected. Some advice comes with a little bit of opinion attached, while others is simply a statement of truth which is difficult to ignore. By definition, advice is an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide for action or conduct. Sometimes we see someone about to perform a particular action or exhibit conduct which will result in harm to them or another - our immediate response may be to offer some "advice" to not do it, right? Have you ever noticed that we are quick to offer advice, but sometimes quite slow to take it? It is much easier to offer an opinion than it it to accept the recommendations of one on the outside looking in!
Don’t bother talking sense to fools; they’ll only poke fun at your words. (Proverbs 23:9 MSG)
Some of us will accept the words of advice we receive - mull them over in our brains a little - then figure out how to use the advice to keep us on the straight and narrow. The fool, on the other hand, will often reject advice as it is offered, never taking the time to mull it over. The words fall on deaf ears, so to speak, even when it is solid. We may deliver a message with all the good sense we can muster, but it will not penetrate the heart or mind of anyone with a mindset determined to do their own thing anyway.
The attitude of heart we must focus on as we look at this ninth principle has to do with how open we are to receive what God gives us through the mouths of those he places in our lives. Many times we play the "fool" because we just won't open up to the possibilities of another being "right" in a particular situation. We limit the learning we could receive because we aren't willing to consider the other person's opinion or recommendation. Now, a word of caution here - not all advice is really worth us taking hold of, but I do think there is a way to determine if advice is "solid" and applicable to our lives.
We need to be open to the recommendations of those God places in our lives. They help to hold us accountable sometimes by the advice they are offering. A fool will reject this advice as "not applicable" or "nonsense" simply because they are either not willing to do the research to see if it is sound advice, or they are too determined to do their own thing. Either way, the one unwilling to receive what God may be offering through another is indeed playing the part of a fool.
As we consider the advice from others, we need to keep in mind there are several precautionary measures to be considered:
- Does it line up with scripture? If not, it is wise to reject it as opinion which is not intended for our lives. If so, then we should consider it in light of what we know to be true within that advice, see if it applies to us, and then embrace it if it does.
- Does it confirm what we already know to be true? There are times when we have an urging within to do something, but either because of fear or reluctance, we are holding back. When advice or recommendation comes which confirms this as the direction we are to be taking, knowing full-well it aligns with scripture, and confirms what God has already been trying to speak into our lives, we should step up. A word of caution here - no "advice" should be "news" to us - if it is, we need to think long and hard before we just accept it at face value. Confirm it with the scripture, seek God's direction, and maybe even the counsel of another believer to see if they agree.
The fool is within all of us - we all play the part well at times. Our best laid plans and fickleness of heart both lend to some pretty foolish actions on occasion. When we hear clearly the soundness of God's wisdom from another, we need to be open enough to listen carefully, consider it in light of the truth we have been given, and if it applies, embrace it. Just sayin!